China Human Rights Briefings February 6-11, 2010

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China Human Rights Briefing

February 6-11, 2010


Arbitrary Detention

Citizens’ Actions

Freedom of Movement

Harassment of Activists

Harassment of Petitioners

Legal Rights

Law and Policy Watch

Arbitrary Detention

Tan Zuoren Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for “Inciting Subversion of State Power”

Tan Zuoren (谭作人), human rights activist and environmentalist, was sentenced to five years in prison with an additional three years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion of state power” on February 9 in Chengdu, Sichuan. According to his lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), the court convicted Tan for attempting to organize commemorative activities for the 20th anniversary of the June 4th, 1989 crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, though many believe that Tan was punished for conducting investigations into student deaths in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Tan has indicated that he will appeal. (CHRD)[i]

Shenzhen Worker Sentenced to 1.5 Years for “Subversion of State Power”

The Shenzhen Intermediate Court declared twenty-year old migrant worker Xue Mingkai (薛明凯) guilty of “subversion of state power” in a public hearing on February 10 and sentenced him to one and a half years in prison. Xue was tried on September 10, 2009, with an additional hearing on December 14, 2009. He was charged with “subversion” after allegedly planning to organize a political party called the “China Democratic Workers’ Party” with online friends in the summer of 2006 and then contacting and joining an overseas democracy organization in early 2009. He has been detained since May 9, 2009. Xue, who is originally from Shandong Province’s Qufu City, was working in Shenzhen as a security guard prior to his detention, and, according to his mother, was diagnosed with serious depression and features of schizomania in July 2006. (CHRD)[ii]

Sentence Upheld for Liu Xiaobo; Beijing Activists Prevented from Attending Hearing

On February 11, the Beijing Municipal High Court rejected the appeal of Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), China’s best-known dissident intellectual and human rights activist. Liu was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to eleven years in prison on December 25, 2009. A number of dissidents, activists, and liberal intellectuals in Beijing were put under “soft detention” on February 10 and 11 to prevent them from attending or reporting on the hearing. The police had also cordoned off areas around the courthouse, making it impossible for Liu’s supporters to go near or attempt to enter the court. A judge spent less than ten minutes reading out the prepared ruling, and Liu’s lawyers were not permitted to speak in court. After hearing the decision, Liu maintained his innocence, stating, “I am not guilty!” (CHRD)[iii]

Conviction Upheld Without Hearing for Chengdu Activist Huang Qi

CHRD learned on February 8 that Chengdu City Intermediate Court rejected the appeal of human rights activist and director of Tianwang Human Rights Center (, Huang Qi (黄琦). Huang was convicted of “illegal possession of state secrets” and sentenced to three years in prison on November 23, 2009. According to one source at the Chengdu City Detention Center, where Huang was held, a judge from the Chengdu City Intermediate Court announced the decision to Huang at the Detention Center on February 8. Huang was not given an oral appeals hearing before the decision was made. Huang’s wife and his lawyer have not yet been formally notified of the decision. (CHRD)[iv]

Guangdong Activist Chen Qitang Released after 2.5 Years in Prison

On February 5, Foshan City, Guangdong Province activist Chen Qitang (陈启棠) was released from prison after nearly two and a half years in detention. According to reports, Chen was met by his wife and nephew, and is resting at home in good health. Chen, an activist and internet writer who used the penname Tianli (天理), was taken into custody by the Foshan City Public Security Bureau (PSB) on October 26, 2007, while assisting villagers in Sanshan Village, Foshan draft legal documents appealing the confiscation of their land by the local government. He was detained for more than one year before being secretly tried and convicted of “impersonation and fraud” on December 31, 2008. (CHRD)[v]

Hunan Petitioner Tried for “Slander”

Huayuan County, Hunan Province petitioner Long Xiuhui (龙秀辉) was tried for “slander” on the morning of February 5 in a local court. A verdict has yet to be announced. Long was arrested for “slander” after being accused by a former local official. He has been petitioning for more than 10 years about local corruption and the misuse of village property by government officials, and was seized in Beijing in December 2009 and detained in a Beijing black jail for 11 days before being returned to Huayuan County. Long was then held for 21 days in the Huayuan County Detention House before officials approved his arrest on January 19, 2010, and transferred him to the Huayuan County Detention Center. (CHRD)[vi]

Citizens’ Actions

CHRD Issues Recommendations for New Demolition and Eviction Regulations

On February 10, CHRD released a public letter outlining our opinion of, and proposals for, the draft Regulations for Expropriation and Compensation of Residential Buildings on State-owned Land (国有土地上房屋征收与 补偿条例) currently open to public comment. These administrative regulations are designed to replace the Urban Housing Demolition and Relocation Management Regulations, the current regulations governing forced evictions. We find that, though the regulations offer some improvements over the current Demolition Regulations, there are still areas in which these regulations fall short: most notably, residents are still not able to delay the demolition of their homes while seeking to resolve disputes with developers, and the regulations as written are vague enough that companies pursuing commercial real estate development may still be able to obtain permission from the government to forcibly evict citizens. CHRD believes that what is needed is a much father-reaching effort to review all current laws and regulations, and to draft a law, not an administrative regulation, which will ensure that citizens’ right to adequate housing is prioritized and protected. For the full text of the letter, which CHRD has sent to the State Council for review, please click here (in Chinese). For CHRD’s latest report on forced eviction, released earlier this week, please click here (in English).

Scholars, Lawyers, Activists Meet at Public Forum to Discuss New Demolition and Eviction Regulations

On February 6, a group of lawyers, scholars, and activists attended a public forum jointly organized by “Post-Reform Net” (后改革网) and CHRD in Beijing to discuss the draft of the Regulations for Expropriation and Compensation of Residential Buildings on State-owned Land currently open to public comment. The forum was chaired by scholar and blogger Wang Junxiu (王俊秀). While the attendees agreed that while these regulations, designed to replace the Urban Housing Demolition and Relocation Management Regulations, represent an improvement over the existing guidelines, they are not strong enough to put an end to the phenomenon of violent forced evictions which are widespread across China today. Attendees universally agreed what was needed was not new administrative regulations, but a law that protects citizens’ constitutional rights and is in accord with the current Property Law. (CHRD)[vii]

CHRD Releases Report on Rights Abuses in Forced Evictions

CHRD released a new report, Thrown Out: Human Rights Abuses in China’s Breakneck Real Estate Development, on February 9. This report documents how a combination of factors, including contradictory laws and regulations and collusion between developers and local authorities, contribute to widespread and significant abuses of citizens’ rights during forced evictions. Based on a steady stream of reports CHRD has received from 13 provinces and municipalities, as well as a number of interviews, this report expands on a report previously published in Chinese by CHRD. It is available for download in .pdf format here. (CHRD)

Freedom of Movement

Debarred Xi’an Lawyer Zhang Jiankang Denied Permit to Travel to Hong Kong

Former Xi’an lawyer Zhang Jiankang (张鉴康) was denied a permit to travel to Hong Kong and Macau by officials at the Xi’an PSB Immigration Office on February 8. Zhang had been invited to Hong Kong by an NGO to take part in an academic exchange. Staff at the PSB office told Zhang he was prevented from leaving the country until 2014, by order of the National Security Unit under the Beilin District, Xi’an PSB. Zhang was not given any additional explanation. He was previously prevented from traveling to the United States, in 2006; at that time he was told that his trip would “endanger national security.” Zhang’s license to practice law was revoked in 2007 after he defended a group of detained farmers in a high-profile land-rights case. (CHRD)[viii]

Harassment of Activists

Beijing Political Activists Summoned for Questioning, Threatened

CHRD learned on February 11 that a group of Beijing dissidents and democracy activists, including Hu Shigen (胡石根), Cha Jianguo (査建国), Li Hai (李海), Gu Jianying (贾建英), and Gao Hongming (高洪明) were separately summoned for questioning on the afternoon of February 8. Some were warned that they had “violated the conditions” of the period during which they are deprived of their political rights, while those whose political rights are not currently restricted were warned of violating public security regulations. They were also told by police to stop holding activities in the name of banned political parties, such as the China Democracy Party. While none of those summoned for questioning were detained, all were subjected to “soft detention” in the days that followed to prevent them from speaking out during Liu Xiaobo’s appeal verdict hearing; it is possible that a further purpose for their questioning was to threaten them against causing trouble during the “Two Meetings” of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference scheduled to begin in the capital on March 3 and 5, respectively. (CHRD)[ix]

Police Search Home of Zhejiang Democracy Activist for Fourth Time in 18 Months

On the evening of February 7, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province democracy activist Fan Ziliang (范子良) was summoned by Huzhou City PSB officers and questioned for three and a half hours while his home was searched. Police confiscated a computer and four books. The reason for Fan’s summons and the search of his home remain unclear, but the interrogation focused on whether Fan wrote a petition in support of Li Zhiyou (李志友), a dissident exiled in Thailand. This is the fourth time in 18 months that police have searched Fan’s home, and they have previously confiscated three computers, none of which have been returned. Fan, a veteran activist and author, was summoned and had his home searched twice during the Beijing Olympic Games and once prior to the 20th anniversary of June Fourth in 2009. (CHRD)[x]

Harassment of Petitioners

Shanghai Authorities Issue Statements to Petitioners Warning against Travel to Beijing

Police in Shanghai have been issuing written and verbal warnings to a number of petitioners in recent days, CHRD has learned. Shanghai petitioners Zhu Jindi (朱金娣), Ding Jueying (丁觉英), Sun Yulan (孙玉兰) and others told CHRD that they were warned against traveling to Beijing during Spring Festival for any reason, petitioning or otherwise, and that any travel to Beijing would be regarded as illegal. It is believed that the threats by officials may be related to Shanghai activist Feng Zhenghu’s (冯正虎) impending return to the city from months spent camped in protest at Tokyo’s Narita airport, as well as to the upcoming “Two Meetings” and Shanghai Expo. (CHRD)[xi]

Legal Rights

Conviction Upheld for Li Zhuang, Sentence Reduced to 1.5 Years Following Appeal

On the morning of February 9, the Chongqing Number One Intermediate Court announced its verdict following the appeal of Beijing lawyer Li Zhuang (李庄), upholding his conviction but reducing his sentence to one year and six months for the crime of “fabricating evidence and obstructing testimony.” Li’s case, which has been closely followed by domestic and international media, took yet another turn during the verdict announcement. Li, who had unexpectedly stated during testimony at his February 3 appeals hearing that he was guilty of the crime, reacted strongly to the court’s decision today, saying that the Chongqing authorities “had not kept their promise,” leading one to believe that Li’s earlier confession was a result of a deal with Chongqing prosecutors, and that Li had expected to be released as a result. CHRD will continue to monitor Li’s case. (CHRD)[xii]

Law and Policy Watch

All China Lawyers Association Push to Regulate Lawyers Handling Sensitive Cases

According to a February 5 report in Legal Daily, the All China Lawyers Association (ACLA) has issued a memo to local lawyers’ associations calling on them to ensure that lawyers are focusing on carrying out “three key tasks”: resolving social conflicts, promoting innovative social management, and honestly and fairly enforcing the law. The memo also calls on lawyers’ associations to regulate their lawyers when handling sensitive cases and cases involving groups. Moreover, the ACLA is calling on lawyers to handle mass incidents in line with an ACLA guideline issued in 2006, which states that lawyers should be actively involved in “resolving contradictions and disputes” and put into practice the “unity” of law and politics. (Legal Daily)[xiii]

This ACLA directive marks another step backwards for the development of the rule of law in China. Lawyers must be allowed to operate freely, bound only by the letter of the law, and not political concerns. By directing lawyers to place “social stability” above the law, the ACLA, which is overseen by the Ministry of Justice, is acting in the interest of neither the lawyers it purports to represent nor their clients. Furthermore, the adding of further restrictions on “sensitive” cases may make defending activists, dissidents, and other vulnerable citizens from prosecution more difficult.

Officials Announce Renewed Anti-Pornography, Anti-Piracy Campaign

Government officials responsible for ongoing efforts to combat online pornography have announced that a fresh crackdown will take place during Spring Festival and the upcoming meetings of the National People’s Congress and the National People’s Political Consultative Conference. According to the office, the effort will focus on mobile WAP sites used to spread lewd content, and will last until late April. Also targeted are illegal printing operations and bootleggers responsible for pirating copyrighted material. (Legal Daily)[xiv]

The government is once again turning to “anti-pornography” as an excuse to crack down on citizens’ freedom of expression. CHRD is concerned that these efforts, as has been the case in the past, will lead to the closure of websites used by citizens to voice political opinions or otherwise infringe upon the right of citizens to express themselves. By making “illegal printing operations” a target as well, the government may also be targeting non-electronic efforts by citizens to spread and exchange ideas.

Editors: Jenn Ling, David Smalls and Lin Sang

[i] “Activist Tan Zuoren Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for ‘Inciting Subversion,’” February 9, 2010,

[ii] “Shandong Youth Xue Mingkai Sentenced to a Year and a Half in Prison for ‘Subversion of State Power'” (山东青年薛明凯被判颠覆国家政权罪成立,获刑一年半), February 10, 2010,

[iii] “Jail Sentence Upheld for Activist Liu Xiaobo,” February 11, 2010,

[iv] “Jail Sentence Upheld for Activist Huang Qi,” February 8, 2010,

[v] “Foshan, Guangdong Activist Chen Qitang Released from Prison Yesterday” (广东佛山维权人士陈启棠昨 天出狱), February 6, 2010,

[vi] “Trial Held for Hunan Petitioner Long Xiuhui” (湖南访民龙秀辉开庭审判), February 8, 2010,

[vii] “Members of Beijing Civil Society Hold Seminar on Proposed Regulations for Expropriation and Compensation of Residential Buildings on State-owned Land” (北京民间召开《国有土地上房屋征收与补偿条例》研 讨会), February 7, 2010,

[viii] “Lawyer Zhang Jiankang Once Again Prevented from Leaving China” (张鉴康律师出境再次受阻), February 8, 2010,

[ix] “Beijing Dissident Hu Shigen Summoned for Questioning” (北京异议人士胡石根被传讯), February 11, 2010,

[x] “News Flash: Police Search Home of Zhejiang Democracy Activist Fan Ziliang for Fourth Time” (快讯:浙江老 民运人士范子良第四次被抄家), February 7, 2010,; also “Fan Ziliang Speaks about Summons Following His Return” (范子良先生传唤归来谈传唤), February 8, 2010,

[xi] “Many Shanghai Petitioners Warned by Police Notice” (上海多位访民被警察宣读告知书), February 11, 2010,

[xii] “Li Zhuang Sentence Changed to One Year and Six Months Following Appeal” (李庄案二审改判一年六个月), February 9, 2010,

[xiii] “ACLA Issues Standards for Lawyers’ Handling of Mass Incidents, Sensitive Cases” (全国律协发文规范律师办理群体性、 敏感性案件执业行为), February 7, 2010,

[xiv] “National ‘Anti-Pornography and Illegal Printing’ Office Launches Special Operation; Close Attention Paid to Outcome of First Series of Cases” (全国“扫黄打非”办公室部署开展专项行动 照司法解释抓紧审结一批案件), February 7, 2010,

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